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Aid Shortfalls are Driving Desperate Syrians Back Home

Julia A. Seymour | Monday, October 19, 2015

Aid Shortfalls are Driving Desperate Syrians Back Home

Desperate conditions and cuts to humanitarian aid helped drive many Middle Eastern refugees into Europe in recent months. But a new scarcity of aid is now prompting some Syrians to return to their war-torn country.

Even as thousands of refugees attempted to make their way to European nations, thousands more turned back to Syria from places like Jordan after UN agencies cut back on international aid.

Adnan, a Syrian refugee living in Jordan’s Zaatari camp, said he and his family of 12 fled Syria more than three years ago and settled in Jordan. They lived on food aid and income from selling vegetables, until the aid dried up two months ago. Four of his children have already gone to Europe. He wants to join them but can’t afford it now. So he signed up the rest of his family for a return to Syria.

Ahmed Al Khara, another Syrian refugee at Zaatari, told Time he would return to family in Daraa, “regardless of the war and the barrel bombs.”

“Once in Syria I will think of a plan, because here there is no future,” he said.

BBC reported that some returning to Syria intended to remain there, while others claimed they would sell assets and hope eventually to get to Europe.

In June, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) announced a $3.47 billion shortfall between the funds received and the amount needed.

“[W]e are so dangerously low on funding that we risk not being able to meet even the most basic survival needs of millions of people over the coming six months,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said.

In September, WFP stopped supplying food vouchers to 229,000 refugees in Jordan alone, according to the BBC. Christian Science Monitor reported the program also cut in half stipends for 211,000 refugees. In 2015, WFP cut payments to 1.6 million Syrian refugees, according to The Guardian.

The cuts take a huge toll on the refugees because in certain host countries, Turkey included, they are not legally allowed to work and must rely on aid.

“They are unable to keep a roof over their heads, put food on the table and send their children to school,” Cate Osborne of the Norwegian Refugee Council told the BBC. “They see the situation as increasingly desperate.”

CARE, a global poverty-fighting organization, also saw the desperate need. “We do have a lot of boots on the ground, we need more because the need is far outpacing the global response,” MIchelle Nunn, the group’s CEO, told WSBTV Atlanta after visiting refugee camps.

UN aid shortages aren’t just causing suffering among Syrians in Jordan. The Guardian reported the budget shortfall also meant aid cuts for Darfuris living in Chadian refugee camps and Somali and Sudanese refugees living in Kenya.

Other agencies also are coming up short. The World Health Organization closed 184 health clinics across Iraq because of a multi-million dollar shortfall, according to The Guardian. The cuts eliminated healthcare access for 3 million people.

Courtesy: WORLD News Service

Publication date: October 19, 2015

Aid Shortfalls are Driving Desperate Syrians Back Home